Umpire Wally Bell dies at age 48

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Sad news coming out of Ohio on Monday night: Wally Bell, who just finished working the Cardinals-Pirates NLDS series last week, has passed away of an apparent heart attack, according to the Youngtown Vindicator.

“One on my dearest friends,” fellow umpire John Hirschbeck told Youngstown’s WFMJ. “We worked together for 11 years. He was like to a son to me, my wife Denise, very dear friend. It’s devastating. Wally was one of the first to call me and congratulate me on working the World Series.”

Bell had spent 21 years as a major league ump, handling one World Series, four LCSs and seven LDSs. According to his MLB.com bio, his proudest moment as a major league ump was returning to the field following open heart surgery in 1999.

“All of us at Major League Baseball are in mourning tonight regarding the sudden passing of Wally Bell,” said commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. “I always enjoyed seeing Wally, who was a terrific umpire and such an impressive young man. On behalf of our 30 clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Wally’s family, fellow umpires and his many friends throughout the game.”

Bell was behind the plate for Game 2 of last week’s NLDS game in St. Louis, a 6-1 win for the Pirates. He was never involved in any major controversies, which alone suggests he did his job pretty well.

According to Wikipedia, he leaves behind two children.

Cubs sign sinkerballer Steve Cishek

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs have signed reliever Steve Cishek. No details about the deal are known yet. For what it’s worth, most relievers are signing two-year deals so far this winter and Cishek’s last deal was a two-year pact.

Cishek, 31-year-old sidearmer who throws a surprisingly fast sinkerball, posted a 2.01 ERA and a 41/14 K/BB ratio and allowed just 26 hits in 44.2 innings between the Mariners and Rays last season. He saved 25 games for the M’s in 2016. Last year he missed the first month and a half of the season following hip surgery, but seemed pretty healthy later in the year.

A nice pickup for Chicago.